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Disabled veterans will see an increase in their compensation beginning next year thanks to a bill by Congressman Ralph Abraham that has just been signed into law. Abraham says the bill will adjust the amount of compensation veterans receive for disability, dependents, and clothing allowance, as well as compensation for surviving spouses.

“It corrals a lot of things that our veterans have been lacking as far as getting cost of living adjustments on, and this bill puts those all together,” Abraham said.

Abraham says the increase is tied to the social security increase, so we won’t know how much more money these vets will get until the end of November.

“It’s something. I wish it could be more, but at least it’s something, and they certainly deserve it and have earned that right to receive those cost of living adjustments,” Abraham said.

Abraham has been an advocate for veterans since he was elected to Congress in 2014. He says veterans have been failed in a lot of areas by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He says the VA has got to get better.

“It’s got to modernize its equipment. It’s got to hire enough doctors and practitioners to see these veterans so they do not have to wait as they are continuing to do. So we’re pushing, we really are,” Abraham said.

 
 
 
 

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According to AAA, nationwide gas prices are at a 12 year low. Spokesperson Don Redman says the current statewide average for a gallon of regular gas is about $1.98.

“You have to go back to 2004, July 2004, to find cheaper prices. At that time, we were selling gasoline about $1.82 a gallon,” Redman said.

Redman says the price of oil is also down to around $40 a barrel. He says drivers could see prices at the pump go down even more before the end of the summer.

“It may be possible that as we get into August that we could see the statewide average actually be about 1.84,” Redman said.

Redman says abundant supply has driven prices down. He says refineries have kept up with the supply surprisingly well considering the high demand.

“Those refineries chugging along at 98% capacity have relay increased the inventory for gasoline despite record number in demand for this summer travel,” Redman said.

 
 
 
 

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After a nearly 4-hour meeting, the LHSAA Executive Committee decided Eddie Bonine will remain the executive director of the organization. Bonine referred to the LHSAA as a “proverbial dumpster fire” in a report to the NFHS, which led to the special meeting that went into executive session. LHSAA President Vic Bonnaffee couldn’t elaborate what went into the decision to keep Bonine.

“First of all I’d like to say that Mr. Bonine is the executive director of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. Second, I would like to say under the advice of legal counsel, since this involves personnel, there is no comment.”

Bonine says moving forward, he will be the executive director of LHSAA until the remainder of his contract which is up in 2019. He says it will be a tough task mending fences with some of the executive members.

“I’ve never been in a position where I am today, I’m in uncharted waters so I’m going to do the best I can. I’m going to regroup as a professional, regroup as a person and I’m going to give the best I can from this point further.”

Before the meeting went behind closed doors, Bonine apologized for his dumpster fire comment. He also talked about his frustrations over not being able to come up with a solution to end the public-private playoff split. Bonine says after getting some things off his chest, he feels as if he has the full support of the board behind him now.

“I will take whatever decision comes from the committee moving forward with this particular process. I’m looking forward to getting back to the job at hand.”

 
 

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More students than ever have achieved ACT scores that allow them to go to college, according to State Superintendent John White, who says the state’s composite ACT score has increased nearly a half a point since 2013. He says over 25,000 students in the Class of 2016 scored an 18 or higher on the ACT.

“That’s an increase of nearly 500 students over the last year and an increase of nearly 7,000 students who achieved that mark since 2012,” White said.

White says he credits this to the 2012 “ACT for All” initiative that allows students to take the exam at no cost, which he says gives more students access to the test. He says they also saw a record number of students qualify for the TOPS scholarship.

“At every level of TOPS more kids than ever before have achieves college admission scores and college scholarship scores to give them life opportunity,” White said.

Since 2012, over 4-thousand more students have qualified for the TOPS Opportunity scholarship, and more than 2-thousand more earned the TOPS Performance award. White says this growth is good news for Louisiana students.

“Every one of these gains reflects new economic opportunity and new life opportunity for young people in our state,” White said.

 
 
 
 

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Michelle Southern reporting.
The final of the three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers slain in an ambush on cops was laid to rest Monday. Thousands turned out for the funeral of BRPD's Corporal Montrell Jackson, a 32-year-old 10-year veteran of the department who leaves behind a wife and baby boy, Mason. Governor John Bel Edwards says we have to make this world a better place for Mason.


 "So as he grows up in our community, and he sees peaceful people being kind every day of his life, he will remember his father,' said Edwards. 
 
At a recent news conference, Police Chief Carl Dabadie said he worked with Jackson at the academy. 
 
"Montrell stood tall everyday. He never wavered, he never quit. His heart was in service to this community," said Dabadie.

The 32 year old was gunned down along with two fellow officers in an ambush on police. Two weeks before he was killed on the job, he made a post on Facebook pleading for people not to let hate infect their hearts — in the aftermath of the death of Alton Sterling during a confrontation with cops.

Dabadie says after the Sterling shooting, he went to talk to BRPD officers.

"Montrell ended up giving me a pep talk. As you saw on his Facebook post, his devotion was to the Baton Rouge city and to our department," Dabadie added.

Thousands of people and police officers from around the country have already attended the funerals of East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Deputy Brad Garafola, and Matthew Gerald of BRPD. 
 
Governor Edwards says Jackson was a pillar of this community and used God's gifts to make a difference for Baton Rouge and Louisiana.
 
Jackson's younger brother, 24-year-old Kendrick Pitts, spoke to Montrell and said he was loved by everyone.
 
"Even that little kid you beat at laser tag loves you," said Pitts.
 
Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden says law enforcement from throughout the country have been pained by the deaths of the three cops, but he's confident they will come out of it stronger people.
 
"The police officers and other officials throughout this state have received a statement by Montrell," said Holden. "Yet tho you slay me I will rise again."
 
 

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LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye returns to New Iberia today after surviving a fatal wreck in Wisconsin. Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler died in the one-vehicle crash, when the driver apparently lost control on wet pavement and struck a tree. Delahoussaye’s coach at New Iberia High, Rick Hutson, says Delahoussaye suffered injuries that require more medical attention.

“My understanding is he’s got some burns on his legs, maybe some stitches in his head, and I’m sure he’s quite bruised up from the accident,” Hutson said.

Delahoussaye was in the back seat of the car at the time of the accident. The kicker is heading into his senior season at LSU and has a chance to be the starting kicker after losing that job to Trent Domingue, who has since transferred to Texas. Hutson says Delahoussaye bleeds purple and gold.

“He loves that university, and that’s where he wanted to go to school whether he played or not,” Hutson said.

Delahoussaye was in Wisconsin to participate in the Kohl’s Kicking Camp. He was participant in the camp last week and was scheduled to serve as a camp counselor this week. Hutson says Delahoussaye has attended that camp since high school and he’s thankful his former player only suffered minor injuries.

“It’s just really sad, and we’re just so thankful that Colby survived,” Hutson said.

 
 
 

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Lawmakers will likely consider a bill to increase the state’s gasoline tax, when they meet for the 2017 fiscal session. That’s according to Representative Kenny Havard, who serves as chairman of the House Transportation Committee and sits on the newly-formed Transportation Task Force. Havard says the state’s gasoline tax has not been raised in over 20 years and there is not enough funds to address the $12 billion backlog for transportation maintenance, much less any new projects.

“The buying power of that money has gone down. Everything has increased, the cost of concrete, asphalt, construction. So all we’re doing now is trying to keep our head afloat,” Havard said.

Louisiana’s 20 cent gas tax ranks 41 in the nation, and only 16 cents of it goes to the transportation trust fund. Havard says he doesn’t really want to raise any taxes, but the state needs the revenue to address the problems with our roads and bridges.

“You say the word tax, and I cringe every time. We’re just talking about the facts, and the fact is everybody wants new roads, and everybody wants a new bridge, and no one wants to sit in traffic. It’s just, how do we pay for it,” Havard said.

The 18 member taskforce must come up with suggestions for the 2017 session by January 1. Havard says he is open to any other ideas to fund transportation projects, including tolls and public-private partnerships.

“That’s what this task force has been commissioned to do is look at different revenue streams and see what we can do to support out infrastructure,” Havard said.

 
 
 

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Tragedy hit the Sabine River this weekend when a father and his two sons drowned in Beauregard Parish. Sheriff Rick Mosely says 51-year-old Harlin Powell’s 12-year-old son Dale Powell and stepson Robbie Merritt were swimming in the river when they began to struggle.

“They were struggling in the river, and they went under, and nobody had seen them pop back up. They said the father had went out to try to rescue the boys but was unsuccessful,” Mosely said.

Mosely says by the time his deputies arrived at the scene, it was already too late. He says they recovered Mr. Powel from the river, who was pronounced dead at the scene. He says search teams then began trying to locate the two boys.

“We recovered one of the boys, and the Calcasieu Marine Unit came in with their sonar equipment, and they were able to locate the third victim about 9:30 last night,” Mosely said.

Mosely says it’s been about five years since anyone has drowned in that part of the river. He says the Sabine River is a popular swimming spot, but the current is stronger than it looks.

“If you find yourself in a situation like that on the river, it’s best to swim with the current and try not to swim against the current. Just let the current carry you down river until you can make it to a safe spot,” Mosely said.

 
 
 

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The Democratic National Convention begins today in Philadelphia with 59 Louisiana delegates in attendance. Michael McHale is one of the delegates says and the Lake Charles resident expects this convention to be much different than last week’s Republican convention.

“The Republican convention was kind of chaotic and seemed like there was a lot of divisiveness, but I think in Philadelphia you’re going to see Democrats coming together, talking about moving this country forward and getting behind our nominee, Hillary Clinton,” McHale said.

McHale says Clinton is the most qualified candidate we’ve ever seen run for president in the US. He is confident that she can move the country forward.

“If you look at everything that she’s done from being First Lady to a United States Senator to Secretary of State. I think she’s been there, she’s done it, and I think she’s done a fantastic job in all of those roles,” McHale said.

McHale says Louisiana supported Bill Clinton both times that he ran for president, and he thinks the Bayou State could do the same for Hillary.

“I think the polls in Louisiana, I think in a lot of states around the country, are going to get an awful lot closer, and I think we have a good shot at carrying Louisiana,” McHale said.

 
 
 

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The LHSAA Executive Committee has a special meeting this afternoon where the only item on the agenda is to discuss the comments made by executive director Eddie Bonine that referred to the LHSAA as a “proverbial dumpster fire.” Executive committee member and Doyle High School Principal Tommy Hodges says they'll discuss the controversial statement by Bonine in a report submitted to the NFHS.

“I think it was an insult to the schools in the state and the athletes in the state.”

Hodges says to his knowledge they will not seek to buy out Bonine’s contract and was shocked by media reports that suggested this is the reason for today’s meeting. He says the objective is really to clear the air.

“We need to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again. However we have to do that, we need to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.”

Bonine signed on to be the LHSAA’s executive director last year. Hodges says he honestly does not see the LHSAA buying Bonine’s contract out.

“I had people all across the state calling and asking me about that and I just don’t think that’s the intent going in, in any way, shape, form, or fashion.”

 
 

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A record 24 candidates will appear on the November ballot for the US Senate seat being vacated by David Vitter. UL-Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says State Treasurer John Kennedy is leading in the early polls. But Cross says Kennedy is going up against some big names.

“Boustany, the congressman from southwest Louisiana, Fleming, the congressman from northwest Louisiana, Rob Maness, Foster Campbell’s in there, and he’s been around forever. Everybody knows who he is,” Cross said.

Republicans Congressmen Charles Boustany and John Fleming, Col. Rob Maness, and former KKK leader David Duke are also big names in the race. Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and attorney Caroline Fayard are the major Democrats on the ballot. Cross says if a Democrat can pull most of the party vote, they will have a good chance at making the runoff.

“If neither can make much headway, then you’re likely to see two Republicans in the runoff. So that’s going to determine, I think, who comes to the floor,” Cross said.

Cross says Duke’s entrance into the race means national media coverage, and with this many candidates, there will also be quite a bit of money spent. He says with this many candidates on the ballot, the high vote getter in the primary might only have 23% of the vote.

“Everybody’s going to be in the race. It’s not like there’s going to be some people way out in front. Everybody has a chance, and that’s going to make for a very exciting race,” Cross said.

 
 
 
 

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Former state legislator and ex-Klansman David Duke has entered the race for the open Senate seat in Louisiana. He says he will run on the same campaign principles he has for decades and standing up for the rights of European Americans.

“Stopping the massive immigration, preserving the character and the culture and the values of America. What other candidate has said ‘Well, I’m going to make sure we can say Merry Christmas again in America’? We should say Merry Christmas,” Duke said.

Duke says he does not think his former affiliation with the KKK will negatively impact his campaign. He says plenty of other elected officials have associations with similar groups.

“I have no apologies for my history. No apologies! This is a no apologies tour. You know and I know that over these years, and again I’m sad to say it in a way, I was right,” Duke said.

The Louisiana Republican Party has denounced Duke. Party chairman Roger Villere says Duke is not and has never been a true Republican. He says they will do everything they can to make sure Duke does not get elected.

“We just don’t agree with him on anything, and we would like to just say that we would ask people not to consider him a Republican and not vote for David Duke,” Villere said.

Duke says this is not the first time the Republican Party has denounced him. He says being rejected by the party is the best endorsement he could get.

“I thank the Republican Party for coming out officially against me,” Duke said.

 
 
 
 

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A tearful goodbye was given today to the first of three law enforcement officers killed on Sunday’s police ambush. Thousands attended the funeral service of Baton Rouge Police Officer Matthew Gerald. Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden spoke and said it’s time for the community to come together. He says we need to put aside our differences and start to understand respect.

“Respect means you give honor to those who honor is due. The men and women who put on those uniforms respect you, respect them.”

Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie got emotional when describing his worst fear coming true and remembering his fallen officer. He says Gerald served his country with honor and is proud of the man everyone gathered to mourn. Dabadie says Gerald fought a good fight and finished his course.

“You have to wait until the sunset to know how good the day was. Officer Gerald’s day has ended, the sun has set and God himself has declared that day was good, that day was very good.”

Director of Training at the Baton Rouge Police Department Lt. J.D. Leach says even though Officer Gerald had only been on the force a few months, he set an example for the younger members training to become a police officer. He says Matt had a simple answer when asked why he became an officer.

“I’ve been serving my country, and now it’s time to serve my community.”

 
 

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The owner of a Mandeville snowball stand has been arrested for inappropriate sexual behavior with some of his juvenile employees. Captain Gerald Sticker with the Mandeville Police Department says the owner of Shiver Shack, 56-year-old Anthony Fortune, was receiving sexual favors and in exchange he would pay his victims cash and supply them with illegal narcotics.

“Female juvenile employees that he had hired, basically kids with summer jobs, cultivated those relationships with his employees there on the job.”

Sticker says currently, there are four victims but advises anyone with any additional information to come forward. He says Fortune conducted indecent behavior with his juvenile employees for about two months.

“Then about two weeks ago, I guess the kids were talking about it amongst themselves and it got out. An individual made the police department aware of it so we starting looking into it.”

Fortune faces numerous charges including possession of a schedule I narcotic, carnal knowledge of a juvenile, and child trafficking for sexual purposes. Sticker says this is a very disturbing case because it’s a business that hires kids and caters to kids.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we can get their business license revoked and shut them down. I’d like to see that personally.”

 
 

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A man is behind bars for threatening Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator on Facebook. Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Cindy Chadwick says 25-year-old Michael Evans made a disturbing post on July 20.

“That post specifically named Sheriff Prator. It said that he needed to be at the top of the list the next time the next list dropped, and then it said flat line,” Chadwick said.

Chadwick says Evans was charged with terrorizing. She says he was picked up during a traffic stop in Sacramento, California, on a warrant issued by Judge John Mosely.

“Judge Mosely affixed a $10 million bond on this charge. Our suspect was located in California last night,” Chadwick said.

Chadwick says threatening someone is always illegal, but police have to be extra cautious in light of the recent attacks on police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. She says the extradition process will begin to bring Evans back to Caddo parish.

“We’ll try to get him back here and make him be accountable for the statements that he put on Facebook,” Chadwick said.

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Michelle Southern reporting.
Saturday marks one year since a man opened fire during a showing of a movie at a Lafayette theater, killing two people and injuring nine others. Joey Durel was the mayor on July 23rd, 2015. He's called the shooting a tragic anomaly, but it never meant that Lafayette and Acadiana are not safe communities.


"As bad as it feels to say it, we don't have any choice as a community but to move on," said Durel. "And we did. And in a very positive way."

Durel said they couldn't have moved on as easily if it weren't for the love and support from people throughout the state, and the nation.

He says one of the things that sticks out in his mind the most was a statement from an officer the next day who said, "All around the country people are throwing bricks at police, and here they are throwing food to us."

"There was an amazing amount of outpouring from people and restaurants," said Durel of all the food being delivered to first responders at the scene. "I know our officers felt very, very appreciated."

Durel said, as Baton Rouge is dealing with the horrible tragedy of the police ambush by someone who was from out of state, he's constantly reminded of the outpouring of support from the community to cops and first responders.

He says when the shooting happened, the response from Louisianians was similar to what we see after hurricanes.

"People came out of the woodwork to help, and to play a role."
 
 
 

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Today is the first of three funerals that will be held for the fallen Baton Rouge officers. The memorial at the gas station where Sunday’s tragedy took place has grown tremendously, as mourners have placed flowers, balloons, and cards at that location. Chris Brown put three crosses he built in front of the memorial. He says it’s a token from his family to theirs.

“There’s never too much we can do to support our officers and those families who lost their fathers and their husbands. Now especially they’re going to need the community back them up as much as possible,” Brown said.

Elizabeth Kasulaitis lives near the scene of the shooting. She says it’s heartbreaking this tragedy happened to the ones who serve and protect us.

“It’s wonderful that we still have a lot of people that support the police, and it’s tragic that we have to have this here, but I’m just praying that things will get better,” Kasulaitis said.

Lacey Rogers brought flowers to lay at the tribute. She she’s touched to see how much the memorial has grown over the past week. She hopes this will bring the community together.

“I think that if people can join in on this, then they can join in on us being together because together we are strong, divided we fall,” Rogers said.

Funeral services for Matthew Gerald is today. Deputy Brad Garafola will be laid to rest on Saturday and Baton Rouge police officer Montrell Jackson’s services will be Monday. Officer Chris Wallace from Canton, Ohio, came to Baton Rouge to take part in all three funerals and is glad to see the community support for the men in blue.

“It just shows that people still care about what we do. They want us here, and they do support us even in hard times, especially in the bad times they come around and rally around us,” Wallace said.

 
 
 
 

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State Police have made an arrest in the fatal hit and run crash that killed a skateboarder near the Southeastern Louisiana campus. Trooper Dustin Dwight says 37-year-old Vincent Young of Natalbany has been booked into jail.

 
"We were able to link him to the scene with forensic evidence, witness statements, as well as, the assistance from the public and even investigative means to put him at that scene."

Young faces several charges including Felony Hit and Run. The incident happened in May on University Avenue in Hammond. Dwight says they believe Young’s vehicle was the second one that hit 26-year-old Erin Gerhard of Independence.
 
"After out skateboarder was hit, another vehicle, which would be Mr. Young, came through the scene and struck him again."

Dwight says the investigation continues as they are still looking for the first vehicle that hit Gerhard on the night of May 11th.
 
"White colored Chevy pickup truck or Silverado, GMC type model pick up truck, that truck fled the scene."
 
 
 

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One of the officers injured in Sunday’s ambush on Baton Rouge police has been released from the hospital.

East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Deputy Bruce Simmons was being treated for injuries to his shoulder and arm at Baton Rouge General, where he underwent two surgeries. Hospital staff and supporters greeted Simmons and his family as he was released.

One deputy still remains in the hospital, Nick Tullier. He is being treated for gunshot wounds to his head and torso and is still in critical condition.

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A former Texas law enforcement officer is donating custom made caskets to the three officers who lost their lives in Sunday’s ambush in Baton Rouge. Trey Ganem is the owner of Trey Ganem Designs says he decided to make the caskets after watching a video featuring one of the fallen officers, Montrell Jackson.

“All of these are hand painted, we custom paint all of our caskets. These are actually done with the American flag across the top, so it’s a solid black casket.”

Ganem says they also incorporated something unique about each officer on to the different caskets, one includes the Superman shield. He says he gets very emotional when designing each casket.

“Everyone we do, we do the best we can. Whether it’s a Tinkerbell casket, a law enforcement, whatever it may be, we put 100% of our heart and soul into these caskets.”

Ganem says he will have a full police escort to each funeral home as he delivers the three caskets to the funeral homes.

“And we’ll revel the casket and we’ll cry together, we’ll hold each other, and we’ll get to know a little bit more about each one of our family members.”

 
 

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